The Fix

"Insider" host, serial sexual harasser? Plus: Macaulay Culkin's dad: "My kids never slept with Michael."

By Salon Staff
Published March 23, 2005 12:11PM (EST)

Turn On:
Wednesday night is women's night on TV: PBS offers the documentary "The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo" (check local listings); A&E brings you a look at the spouses of male athletes, "Sports Wives" (9 p.m. EST); and TV Land airs the first episode of "Chasing Farrah" (10 p.m. EST), a six-part reality series following, yes, Farrah Fawcett, living her life. Also, Fox premieres "Life on a Stick" (9:30 EST), a comedy about a couple of high school grads working at their local mall.

Morning Briefing:
Queen, not even for a day? The confusion over whether Camilla Parker Bowles will become Queen Camilla when Prince Charles becomes king rages on. Now Prince Charles communications secretary, Paddy Harverson, says reports that Camilla would have to be called queen unless there is legislation" are incorrect and not in accordance with the government's advice. Mrs. Parker Bowles can, as she wishes, be referred to as Princess Consort, rather than queen, without legislation." But lawmaker Andrew Mackinlay insists, This is absolutely unequivocal that she automatically becomes queen when he becomes king" -- and calls the denial by the princes people "wrong and arrogant." (The Scotsman)

Jackson trial update: Comedian Louise Palanker, who befriended the family of Michael Jackson's accuser and gave them $20,000 to help them through the boy's struggle with cancer, testified on Tuesday that she got a phone call from the boy's mother shortly after the U.S. airing of "Living With Michael Jackson" that persuaded her that the family was being held against its will. "She was extremely agitated and she was almost whispering ... This was fear-based agitation," Palanker said, adding that the mother told her, "Don't call me back here. They're listening to everything I say. These people are evil." Palanker said the phone call so alarmed her, she immediately called her attorney. She also testified that Jackson's young accuser had shown himself to be "honest in the face of others not wanting him to be," citing for example an instance in which the boy resisted pressure from his father to accuse comedian George Lopez of stealing $300 from his wallet. ... And in related Jackson news, the estranged father of old Jackson buddy Macaulay Culkin, Kit Culkin, has issued a long statement to the press insisting that he "never saw or heard anything at all during my early days of knowing Michael to suggest that he was a pedophile ... My kids never slept with Michael." (Fox News, N.Y. Post)

The lech behind the mustache: The scandal surrounding "Insider" host Pat O'Brien is getting worse -- much, much worse. Following reports that O'Brien, who entered alcohol rehab over the weekend, was the man speaking in several over-the-top voice mail messages asking an unidentified woman to participate in a threesome with him and another woman, comes a report that the ex-husband of O'Brien's mistress, "Betsy," is in possession of an explicit photograph of O'Brien masturbating as well as an incriminating e-mail O'Brien allegedly sent to Betsy. The man says he may sell the photo to the tabloid press. But wait, that's not all, today's news also brings a flurry of allegations that O'Brien was repeatedly reprimanded for sexual harassment while he was at "Access Hollywood" -- including four instances in which he allegedly licked co-host Nancy O'Dell's face at a party, groped reporter Shaun Robinson's behind and suggested one gay male producer "bend over" to receive a "gift" from him. (Page Six, Gatecrasher)

Books by Mary: Prepare for an onslaught of right-wing tomes from Simon & Schuster. The publisher has just signed Republican strategist Mary Matalin to run a new conservative imprint, set to release six to 10 books a year starting in 2006. "There have been sentiments throughout the company for creating a conservative imprint," Simon & Schuster executive vice president David Rosenthal said of the decision to bring in Matalin and launch the new, as yet unnamed, division. "Mary is a distinctive voice in politics ... and we thought she might be interested in doing this. It seemed liked a cool idea." (Associated Press)

Also: Josh Howard, the 60 Minutes Wednesday" executive producer who for months has refused to resign under pressure from CBS after the Memogate scandal, reached a settlement with the network and quit on Tuesday. (Fox News) ... The conservative Web site Human Events Online, citing an account in the book "Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant," is alleging that Dan Rather once let a lawyer for President Clinton feed him questions during an interview he did with Elian Gonzalez's father, Juan Miguel. (Human Events Online via Drudge) ... Sideways" star Thomas Haden Church will play Spideys nemesis in "Spider-Man 3," though exactly which villian he will play is not yet clear. (PR Newswire) ... Former "Growing Pains" star Tracey Gold was given three years probation by a California judge after pleading guilty to drunken driving in connection with a car crash that injured her husband and two of her children, ages 5 and 7. (Fox News) ... Luciano Pavarotti is returning to Italy after having neck surgery on two compressed vertebrae at a New York hospital. (USA Today) ... HBO is planning to air a documentary about the rocky launch of the Air America radio network, "Left of the Dial." (Drudge) ... Oprah Winfrey is planning to move into a public housing project in Chicago while she produces a TV series about America's urban housing crisis. (N.Y. Post) ... In an interview with Barbara Walters, Robert Blake said he'd mulled suicide during his trial for the murder of his wife, that he now had a clear conscience, and that he suspected someone his wife had wronged in the past had killed her: "She led that kind of life, where she made a lot of enemies," he said. (N.Y. Post) ... The man accused of plotting to kidnap David Letterman's toddler and nanny has pleaded not guilty to the charges. (Choteau Acantha) ... The producers of "American Idol" are trying to figure out how to recover from a mess-up in which the phone numbers listed to vote for three of the show's contestants were screwed up. (N.Y. Post)

Money Quote:
New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley on the Broadway production of "The Glass Menagerie," starring Jessica Lange and Christian Slater (whom Brantley calls "luminous but misdirected and miscast"), which opened last night to mixed reviews: "Within its first 15 minutes, you feel the entire production sinking into a watery grave." (N.Y. Times)

-- Amy Reiter

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